Elite Travel Group is located in Elbasan, Albania 45km from Tirana. The travel company started small in 2000 and grew bigger diversifying its portfolio to include seven business lines, thus keeping up with changing trends in the marketplace.

As Elvis Kotherja, Managing Director, explains “We are active in travel management and corporate travel for B2C clients, we have an online tour operator, we manage a transport company, launched an academy, are active in hospitality (hi-tech property management systems) and look to develop further in consultancy.”

Elite Travel Group offers its services to more than 40,000 tourists covering all Balkan countries and South-Eastern Europe. But tourism has been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis and many business lines have been dormant over the past year. Nevertheless, strong growth from previous years thanks to digitalisation efforts will help stabilise the business. “For example, in finance we used 3 systems but these didn’t communicate with each other,” explains Elvis. “With new technology, AI & ML, things work better and faster. Before, most of the work was downloaded, processed manually, then uploaded again. Now everything is on one platform, and my staff can focus more on analysing the data, with more space to think and develop the business.”

Elvis feels strongly about the importance of digitalisation. “The next generation of our family business? They’re all coders! We are very interested in R&D and how digitalisation will drive re-skilling for future employment.” The company has developed partnerships with vocational training schools on digitalisation and HR, skilling and re-skilling Albanian youth. “Every single student has their own talent. We just need to be patient and help them figure out what they are good at. I have no doubt that the most secure investment for the next 10 years is training people and digitization. Recently, we participated in the European Vocational Skills Week, delivered 7 lessons for the students of Albanian public VET schools and regularly offer vocational training internships in the company – which we consider very important for the younger generation and the future of Europe.”

In order to support its cash flow needs, Elite Travel Group received an EU-guaranteed loan from Raiffeisen Albania, backed by the EIF. “A lot of our work requires payment up-front, and you only receive your revenue later on, so this type of financing is important in our line of work. We consider Raiffeisen Albania as our growth partner,” Elvis explains, while not holding back his optimism about the future: “We want to be known as an educational & expert travel institution. Going forward, we want to be a leader in tourism, developing our consultancy work to that all tourism suppliers use our digital environment. We want to be considered ‘the McKinsey of travel’.”